To Indy And Beyond
MSU caps 11-win season with Minnesota victory; Ohio State awaits in Indy
To view a video recap and analysis of the game, click here.
History was made on Saturday, clearing the way for significantly more momentous milestones before the book is closed on MSU’s 2013 football season.
No. 10 MSU concluded the regular season with a 14-3 win against Minnesota (8-4 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) at home, earning the Spartans’ third 11-win season in four years and their first 8-0 Big Ten record in history.
The winningest senior class to ever wear the green and white notched career win No. 40, and now has the opportunity to become the first MSU team to win 12 games in either the Big Ten Championship Game against No. 2 Ohio State on Dec. 7 or the team’s bowl game.
“Not too many football programs in the country can say those things,” head coach Mark Dantonio said.
After a disappointing 2012, the Spartans have reversed their fortunes in games at home and against Big Ten opponents this season. For the third time in four seasons, MSU finished undefeated at home, and rebounded from a 3-5 Big Ten record last year by beating every conference foe by double digits.
Before that could happen, though, the Spartans had to rebound from a casual start.
It was fair to question the team’s motivation and whether focus already had shifted to the looming championship matchup. It also was fair to wonder how many fans would come on a cold Saturday after Thanksgiving weekend. By game’s end, neither was worth the worry.
“You’re gonna have some games you’ve gotta reach back and scratch and dig for things,” Dantonio said. “So very, very proud of … our senior leadership. I’ve said all along we win because of chemistry, and I believe that.”
The Spartans’ first touchdown came on the team’s first possession, finding the end zone by way of a 15-yard dash from running back Jeremy Langford. The junior continued his breakout season by running for 134 yards— his seventh consecutive game over 100 yards.
No other first-half drive produced more than 24 yards as the Spartans squandered the first two interceptions of sophomore cornerback Trae Waynes’ career.
Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook hit redshirt freshman tight end Josiah Price for a 12-yard touchdown on the first possession of the second half.
The Spartan offense had glimpses of efficiency throughout the game, but failed to convert any of the team’s three takeways into points. The final takeaway was the most crucial, however, as the Gophers drove to MSU’s 14-yard line before a fumble.
Minnesota became the second team to rush for 100 yards against MSU, but couldn’t overcome its own turnovers. A missed 38-yard field goal and the fumble doomed the Gophers on trips inside the MSU 21-yard line.